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Lori A. Black, Terril A. Nell, and James E. Barrett

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James E. Barrett, Carolyn A. Bartuska, and Terril A. Nell

Experiments with' White Christmas' and `Carolyn Wharton' caladiums (Caladium × hortulanum Birdsey), croton (Codiaeum variegatum), brassaia (Brassaia actinophylla Endl.), `Annette Hegg Dark Red' poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Wind.), and `Super Elfin Red' and `Show Stopper' impatiens [Impatiens wallerana (L.) Hook.f.] determined effectiveness of paclobutrazol in solid spike form as compared to media drench applications for height control. Paclobutrazol drenches and spikes were effective for all crops tested, with a similar concentration response for all, except that drenches had greater efficacy than spikes on caladium. A reduced effect was observed when spikes were placed on the medium surface of `Super Elfin Red' impatiens, while placement in the middle of the pot or around the side was equally effective. These results indicate that the spike formulation of paclobutrazol has potential to provide adequate size control for floriculture crops with the possible exception of rapidly developing crops, such as caladiums. Chemical name used: (2RS, 3RS)-1-(4-chlorophenyl)-4,4-dimethyl-2-1,2,4-triazol-1-yl-) penten-3-ol (paclobutrazol).

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Barbara C. Poole, Terril A. Nell, and James E. Barrett

Premature flower bud abscission imposes a serious limitation on longevity of potted Hibiscus in interiorscape situations, Ethylene is known to be one causative factor. Past research has suggested that carbohydrate depletion of buds may also be involved,

A series of experiments was conducted to examine the relationship between carbohydrate levels and ethylene sensitivity of flower buds under low irradiance levels. Two cultivars were used: `Pink Versicolor', which is very susceptible to bud abscission, and the more resistant `Vista', In the first experiment, plants were harvested twice weekly after placement in interiorscape rooms (8.5 μmol m-2 s-1 for 12 hrs per day; 26.5°C day/night) until all buds had abscissed. At each harvest, buds from four size groups were collected for analysis. In the second experiment, source/sink strength of buds was manipulated by selective daily removal of certain sized buds. Remaining buds were collected just prior to abscission for analysis. In two additional experiments, `Pink Versicolor' plants were treated with either silver thiosulfate or ethephon prior to placement in interiorscape rooms. Plants were harvested twice weekly and buds collected. For all experiments, bud dry wt, total soluble sugars and starch content were determined.

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Barbara C. Poole, Terril A. Nell, and James E. Barrett

Premature flower bud abscission imposes a serious limitation on longevity of potted Hibiscus in interiorscape situations, Ethylene is known to be one causative factor. Past research has suggested that carbohydrate depletion of buds may also be involved,

A series of experiments was conducted to examine the relationship between carbohydrate levels and ethylene sensitivity of flower buds under low irradiance levels. Two cultivars were used: `Pink Versicolor', which is very susceptible to bud abscission, and the more resistant `Vista', In the first experiment, plants were harvested twice weekly after placement in interiorscape rooms (8.5 μmol m-2 s-1 for 12 hrs per day; 26.5°C day/night) until all buds had abscissed. At each harvest, buds from four size groups were collected for analysis. In the second experiment, source/sink strength of buds was manipulated by selective daily removal of certain sized buds. Remaining buds were collected just prior to abscission for analysis. In two additional experiments, `Pink Versicolor' plants were treated with either silver thiosulfate or ethephon prior to placement in interiorscape rooms. Plants were harvested twice weekly and buds collected. For all experiments, bud dry wt, total soluble sugars and starch content were determined.

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Terril A. Nell, Ria T. Leonard, and James E. Barrett

Postproduction characteristics of the new poinsettia cultivar `Freedom', as influenced by production and postproduction treatments, were evaluated. In one study, plants were grown under three production irradiance levels consisting of 450, 675 or 900 μmol s-1m-2 at 18/24C or 22/28C night/day temperatures and moved at anthesis to postproduction conditions (10 μmol s-1m-2 for 12 hr/day, 21±2C). Anthesis was delayed, plant height and diameter decreased, and a reduction in the number and development of cyathia occurred when maintained at low production temperature and irradiance. Leaf drop, which was minimal after 30 days postproduction (< 25%), was unaffected by production treatments, while cyathia drop was accelerated by low production irradiance and temperature, but not reduced after 30 days.

Leaf retention and quality in postproduction conditions are excellent. Cyathia drop averages 40 to 50% after 2 weeks in postproduction conditions. Bracts and leaves maintain their color well, with only slight fading after 30 days. Plants exhibit slight epinasty after shipping, but recover within a couple of days. These characteristics of `Freedom' make it a promising variety for the future.

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William M. Womack, Terril A. Nell, and James E. Barrett

Dormant-budded `Prize' azaleas (Rhododendron sp.) were held at 2C, 7C, 13C, or 18C for 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 weeks then forced in walk-in growth chambers (29C day/24C night). Holding at 2C delayed flowering by 5-7 days over 7C and 13C. Plants held at 2C, 7C, or 13C for at least 4 weeks had approximately 50% buds showing color at marketability (8 open flowers). Plants held at 18C never exceeded 35% buds showing color at marketability. Increase in buds showing color was not apparent for plants were held at 7C, 13C, or 18C for more than 6 weeks; however, holding at 2C resulted in increasing percentages of buds showing color for holding periods longer than 6 weeks. Plants chilled at 13C and 18C showed significant increases in bud abortion after 8 or 10 weeks of cooling with most plants never reaching marketability (8 open flowers). These plants also had an increased proliferation of bypass shoots during cooling and forcing over other treatments.

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Andrew J. Macnish, Ria T. Leonard, and Terril A. Nell

The postharvest longevity of fresh-cut flowers is often limited by the accumulation of bacteria in vase water and flower stems. Aqueous chlorine dioxide is a strong biocide with potential application for sanitizing cut flower solutions. We evaluated the potential of chlorine dioxide to prevent the build-up of bacteria in vase water and extend the longevity of cut Matthiola incana `Ruby Red', Gypsophila paniculata `Crystal' and Gerbera jamesonii `Monarch' flowers. Fresh-cut flower stems were placed into sterile vases containing deionized water and either 0.0 or 2 μL·L–1 chlorine dioxide. Flower vase life was then judged at 21 ± 0.5 °C and 40% to 60% relative humidity. Inclusion of 2 μL·L–1 chlorine dioxide in vase water extended the longevity of Matthiola, Gypsophila and Gerbera flowers by 2.2, 3.5, and 3.4 days, respectively, relative to control flowers (i.e., 0 μL·L–1). Treatment with 2 μL·L–1 chlorine dioxide reduced the build-up of aerobic bacteria in vase water for 6 to 9 days of vase life. For example, addition of 2 μL·L–1 chlorine dioxide to Gerbera vase water reduced the number of bacteria that grew by 2.4- to 2.8-fold, as compared to control flower water. These results confirm the practical value of chlorine dioxide treatments to reduce the accumulation of bacteria in vase water and extend the display life of cut flowers.

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Andrew J. Macnish, Ria T. Leonard, and Terril A. Nell

The vase life of many cut flowers is often limited by bacterial occlusion of stem bases. In this study, we tested the efficacy of a novel antimicrobial agent, aqueous chlorine dioxide (ClO2), to extend the longevity of cut Gerbera flowers by reducing the number of bacteria in vase water. Commercially mature and freshly cut Gerbera jamesonii `Monarck' flowers were placed into clean vases containing deionized water and 0, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 μL·L-1 ClO2. Stems were then maintained in solutions at 21 ± 0.5 °C and 42 ± 11% relative humidity until the end of vase life. Inclusion of 2, 5, and 10 μL·L-1 ClO2 in vase water had beneficial effects on flower longevity. For instance, treatment with 5 and 10 μL·L-1 ClO2 extended flower longevity by 1.4-fold or 3.7 days, as compared to control flowers (0 μL·L-1 ClO2). In contrast, exposure to the higher concentrations of 20 and 50 μL·L-1 ClO2 did not extend flower vase life. Relative to control flowers, treatment with 10 μL·L-1 ClO2 delayed the onset of detectable bacterial colonization of vase solutions from day 3 to day 6 of vase life. However, this ClO2 treatment did not reduce the number of bacteria that subsequently accumulated in vase water as compared to control flowers. Treatment with 10 μL·L-1 ClO2 also increased rates of solution uptake by stems and reduced the loss of flower fresh weight over time. These results highlight the potential use of ClO2 treatments to extend the postharvest longevity of Gerbera flowers.

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Andrew J. Macnish, Ria T. Leonard, and Terril A. Nell

Exposure to 0.1, 1.0, or 10 μL·L−1 ethylene for 4 days at 21 °C reduced the display life of 17 commonly traded potted foliage plant genotypes (Aglaonema ‘Mary Ann’, Anthurium scherzerianum ‘Red Hot’ and ‘White Gemini’, Aphelandra squarrosa ‘Dania’, Chlorophytum comosum ‘Hawaiian’, Codiaeum variegatum pictum ‘Petra’, Dieffenbachia maculata ‘Carina’, Dracaena marginata ‘Bicolor’ and ‘Magenta’, Euphorbia milii ‘Gaia’, Euphorbia splendens ‘Short and Sweet’, Ficus benjamina, Polyscias fruticosa ‘Castor’, Radermachera sinica ‘China Doll’, Schefflera elegantissima ‘Gemini’, Schefflera arboricola ‘Gold Capella’, Spathiphyllum ‘Ty's Pride’). Ethylene treatment hastened leaf and bract abscission or senescence. The responsiveness of plants to ethylene varied considerably; six genotypes were sensitive to 0.1 μL·L−1 ethylene, whereas three genotypes required exposure to 10 μL·L−1 ethylene to trigger visible injury. Four genotypes (Asplenium nidus, Chamaedorea elegans ‘Neathe Bella’, Hedera helix ‘Chicago’, Syngonium podophyllum ‘White Butterfly’) included in our study were insensitive to ethylene. Treating Aglaonema ‘Mary Ann’, Polyscias fruticosa ‘Castor’, and Schefflera arboricola ‘Gold Capella’ plants with 0.9 μL·L−1 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP, provided as EthylBloc™), a gaseous ethylene-binding inhibitor, for 4 to 5 h at 21 °C reduced the deleterious effects of ethylene. The release of 1-MCP from two sachets containing EthylBloc™ into a single shipping box also protected Aphelandra squarrosa ‘Dania’, Euphorbia milii ‘Gaia’, Polyscias fruticosa ‘Elegans’, and Schefflera arboricola ‘Gold Capella’ plants from ethylene injury after simulated transport. Our data reveal the genetic variation in ethylene sensitivity among potted foliage plants and highlight genotypes that benefit from 1-MCP treatment.

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G.H. Pemberton, Terril A. Nell, and James E. Barrett

Senescence of gladiolus flowers, like many geophytes, does not involve a climacteric burst of ethylene. Eleven gladiolus cultivars were screened and all were non-climacteric (NC) for both respiration and ethylene production. Average ethylene levels for individual flowers were 0.5 μl C2H4/kg per h or less. As in other NC flowers, protein synthesis may be linked to senescence. Our goal was to identify specific proteins that were involved in the senescence process that could be used as indicators of postharvest longevity. SDS-PAGE protein profiles of cut gladiolus flowers were determined from a tight bud stage to senescence. Both increases and decreases were observed in major polypeptides that may be connected to postharvest flower longevity. Total protein content of gladiolus flower petals decreased by ≈70% during the profile period. This could explain the relatively short postharvest life of 3 to 5 days for individual gladiolus flowers. Total protein profiles were probed with an ACC synthase antibody to establish the relationship of this enzyme in NC senescence.